Thursday, April 14, 2005

Gay Ordination in the ELCA

The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), in their Chicago Conference last week, developed and forwarded three resolutions to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly which convenes this August.

The third of the three resolutions urges that the Church's policy prohibiting the ordination of openly homosexual men and women be waived. The recommendation has to be accepted by two thirds of the voting members at the Churchwide Assembly in order to become church policy.

It's hard to say how the assembly will vote. The voting members who will attend the Assembly are often people who seek appointment because they are politically active, and the politically active, for better or worse, tend to be liberal, and liberals in the church, as elsewhere, tend to favor proposals such as these.

One thing of which I feel somewhat sure is that the vast majority of Lutherans would prefer to keep the policy on gays in the clergy the way it has been since the 16th century. Most Lutherans are pretty conservative folks and they have a hard time reconciling the acceptance of openly gay pastors living in unmarried sexual relationships with what they read in their Bibles about homosexuality.

If the Assembly does choose to accept the Council's recommendation two things will probably happen. The severe shortfall of ordained ministers in the ELCA will be temporarily mitigated by an influx of homosexual applicants, and, secondly, the ongoing decline in churchwide membership will accelerate as many Lutherans will simply take their families to the more conservative and traditional non-denominational church down the street.

The leadership of the ELCA surely understands this, but for reasons of political expediency they prefer not to take a firm stand against the ordination of gays. Indeed, almost everyone whose desk the issue crosses recommends that the prohibition against gay ordination be relaxed. Perhaps they each hope that the buck can be passed to the Churchwide Assembly where the whole matter will be tabled for a couple more years.

If so, they're playing a dangerous game. They have the accelerator pressed to the floor and the car is heading for the cliff. We'll see in August how well the brakes work.

Time's Top 100

Time magazine's list of the world's most influential leaders is out and it includes ... Barack Obama, a freshman senator who has been in the senate now for all of three months. It also includes Abu al-Zarqawi, Mahmoud Abbas, and Hugo Chavez but oddly omits Tony Blair, Ariel Sharon, and Pope John Paul II (who, in fairness, may have been scratched from the list after his death). In other words, it's a rather strange register of the world's most influential leaders.

They have other categories with similar inventories which are equally as peculiar. For example their roster of artists and entertainers consists of all Hollywood types (as near as I can tell) plus Ann Coulter. Why is Ann Coulter placed in this list? If a political commentator does belong here (Jon Stewart is mentioned) why are Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who are at least as influential as anyone else Time mentions, not included?

The Heroes and Icons selection includes Nelson Mandella, Melissa Ethridge, and LeBron James, but not Billy Graham or Tommy Franks, nor are any other American service men or women mentioned even though some of them are in line for Congressional Medals of Honor.

The group of influential Scientists and Thinkers has Rick Warren (!?) and Peter Singer but omits William Dembski, Michael Behe, and Alvin Plantinga, certainly three of the most influential thinkers of the last twenty years, whether one agrees with them or not.

Nor do we know how Time could have overlooked the Swift Boat Vets if they were really serious about enumerating the most influential people of 2004. If they could place Rick Warren (who certainly deserves to be somewhere in the top 100) in with scientists and thinkers they could surely have found a home somewhere for the Swift Vets and Paul O'Neill.

If readers would like to suggest nominations for significant omissions or dubious inclusions in Time's list please feel free to forward them to us via our Feedback forum.

Why Home-Schooling is So Popular

This is a story of astonishingly brutal and disgusting behavior by students and incredibly bad judgment by administrators in a school in Columbus, Ohio:

A 16-year-old disabled girl was punched in the face and forced to engage in videotaped sexual acts with several boys in a high school auditorium as dozens of students watched, according to witnesses.

Authorities are investigating and no charges have been filed in the alleged attack last month at Mifflin High School. Four boys suspected of involvement were sent home and have not returned to class.

Also, the principal, Regina Crenshaw, was suspended and will be fired for not calling police, school officials said. And three assistant principals were suspended and will be reassigned to other schools.

The girl was forced to perform oral sex on at least two boys, according to statements from school officials, obtained by The Columbus Dispatch.

Part of the alleged assault was videotaped by a student who had a camera for a school project.

School officials found the girl bleeding from the mouth. An assistant principal cautioned the girl's father against calling 911 to avoid media attention, the statements said. The girl's father called police anyway.

Her father said the girl is developmentally disabled. A special education teacher said the teen has a severe speech impediment.

If we read between the lines, the administrators were just going to let this episode slide by. A young handicapped girl is beaten and coerced into sex by a group of boys while dozens of students look on, filming the event, and the administrators urged the father not to call the police because it would make the school look bad. We hope the father presses charges against his daughter's assailants and sues the school's principal for negligence, malpractice, and fraud - the latter for misrepresenting herself as a professional school administrator.

We wonder what the school district will do with these students - not just the ones who did it, but also the ones who watched and did nothing to stop it. Will the perpetrators receive the usual three day suspension and return to the hallways to the cheers of their buddies as though they were heroes, or will the district show more spine than Ms Crenshaw displayed and permanently expel the thugs and administer serious punishments to their cheerleaders?

We also wonder what the parents of the students involved in the assault, and of those who enjoyed the spectacle, will do with their children. Sadly, we would not be surprised if many of them do nothing.

Thank goodness the school board is firing the principal. We suspect that an assistant principal or two should be cashiered as well.

And public school educators wonder why so many parents want to home-school their children. Would any sane parent want his or her child to be attending this school, or any of the hundreds, maybe thousands, like it across the nation?